Antihypertensive medications increased risk of serious fall injuries

Patients who were prescribed antihypertensive medications had an increased risk of serious fall injuries, particularly patients with previous fall injuries, according to study results published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers examined the association between blood pressure medication use and serious fall injury among 4,961 patients older than 70 years with hypertension. Main outcome measures included serious fall injuries, including hip and other major fractures, traumatic brain injuries and joint dislocations ascertained through Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims.

Among all participants, 14.1% received no antihypertensive medications, 54.6% received moderate-intensity medications and 31.3% took high-intensity antihypertensive medications.

Study results showed 446 participants experienced serious fall injuries. The risk for serious injuries from falls was higher for patients who used antihypertensive medications vs. nonusers and even higher for patients who had a previous fall injury.

“Although cause and effect cannot be established in this observational study and we cannot exclude confounding, antihypertensive medications seemed to be associated with an increased risk of serious fall injury compared with no antihypertensive use in this nationally representative cohort of older adults, particularly among participants with a previous fall injury,” the researchers wrote. “The potential harms vs. benefits of antihypertensive medications should be weighed in deciding whether to continue antihypertensives in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.”

For more information:

Tinetti ME. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;doi:0.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14764.

Disclosure: Cary P. Gross received research funding from Medtronic and from 21st Century Oncology and is on the Scientific Advisory Board of Fair Health, Inc.

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